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Lewis Carroll:
FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

  1. Lewis Carroll was stoned on drugs when he wrote his Alice stories. [True or False?] [ Drill ]

    False. The idea that Lewis Carroll's imaginative characters and stories are a product of drug stupor1 was first spread in the 1960's by adherents of the then new LSD subculture. The rumor is believed to have originated from the psychiatrists who introduced LSD into our society.2 The Lewis Carroll rumors claimed that Carroll used drugs when he wrote his stories, suggesting that a drug, not Carroll's fertile imagination was responsible for these creative literary works. These rumors have been a huge marketing success for the business of psychiatry, serving to instill the common belief that drugs are a useful remedy to an otherwise unimaginative lifestyle. However, the rumors are not based on facts. There is no evidence linking "Lewis Carroll" (Charles Lutwidge Dodgson) with mind-altering drug use. Also, studies have proven conclusively that drugs not only fail to enhance personal creativity, repeated use considerably suppresses (harms) an individual's power of creative imagination.3

    1 Drugs (stimulants and hallucinogens) such as LSD did not exist in England in the 1800's when Lewis Carroll (Dodgson) was alive.
    2 At first psychiatrists used LSD as a simple means to make people psychotic (insane). Later, in the late 1950's the drug was given to unsuspecting native American (Hopi Tribe) "volunteers" who were then told to make drawings. The art expert hired by the psychiatrists decided that the results were art. The Hopi artists, while still on their LSD-high, agreed that they liked their LSD-induced art better than their traditional Hopi art. It is worthy of note that nothing ever came out of the "Hopi-LSD" art. To this day, however, the Hopi people are noted for creating the art of their long and colorful traditions.
    See DOCUMENT 1 and DOCUMENT 2 below.
    3 Ref. "Some clinical and social aspects of lysergic acid diethylamide: II" by SARWER FONER. See DOCUMENT 3

  2. What makes Carroll's Alice stories important works of literature is his use of symbolism. [True or False?] [ Drill ]

    False. Or, as Alice would say, “Stuff and nonsense!” If anything, it was the lack of any hidden meanings which gave rise to the Alice books as trend-setting literature. When first published the Alice books broke with a deep-rooted tradition in children's literature. In the Victorian era of Lewis Carroll's day children's stories were very much based on moral outcome. While Victorian tales may have been good tools to promote ethical and prudent behavior in children they were not what you would call entertaining and did even less to inspire imagination. Carroll himself made fun of this in, "The Mock Turtle's Story", chapter 9 of his work "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" with Alice's opinion of the Duchess, "How fond she is of finding morals in things!" One theory has it that modern-day obsession with symbolism contained in Carroll's stories is actually a carry-over from the Victorian age; traditional scholasticism still searching for the missing moral significances. While it is inevitable that Carroll would symbolize figures from his personal experience, his real intent (at least originally) was to tell stories based on nothing but creative nonsense which would appeal to the imagination-starved children of his day. Of course the real importance of the Alice stories is that their popularity transcends culture (Did you know Alice is very popular in Japan?) and time. For over 100 years and continuing to this day people of all ages find them fun to read!

  3. Lewis Carroll was a pedophile. [True or False?] [ Drill ]

    False. What is interesting about this rumor, however, is that more than likely Carroll became victim of his own superlative writing skills. When Lewis Carroll wrote "I am fond of children (except boys)", he affirmed his fondness for young girls more strongly than he would have had he written merely "I am fond of young girls". There is no evidence to suggest that Carroll's "fondness" was sexually deviant. The writing artifice used here by Carroll is called, "The Exception Proves the Rule" and has been best defined by Gilbert Watts (1640), in Bacon's ADVANCEMENT AND PROFICIENCE OF LEARNING VIII. iii. Aph. 17: "As exception strengthens the force of a Law in Cases not excepted, so enumeration weakens it in Cases not enumerated."

  4. Lewis Carroll did not answer the riddle, "Why is a raven like a writing desk?" [True or False?]

    False, although he did state that at the time of writing the riddle he had no answer in mind. Denis Crutch ("Jabberwocky," Winter 1976) reported an astonishing discovery. In the 1896 edition of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, Carroll wrote a new preface in which he gave what he considered the best answer to the riddle: "Because it can produce a few notes, tho they are very flat; and it is nevar [sic] put with the wrong end in front." Note the spelling of "never" as "nevar." Carroll clearly intended to spell "raven" backwards. The word was corrected to "never" in all later printings, perhaps by an editor who fancied he had caught a printer's error. Because Carroll died soon after this "correction" destroyed the ingenuity of his answer, the original spelling was never restored. Whether Carroll was aware of the damage done to his clever answer is not known.

  5. Some of Carroll's nonsense words are now common in modern dictionaries. [True or False?] [ Drill ]

    True. For example, Carroll's coinages "chortle" (which is now in most dictionaries) and "gallumph" (which is in the Oxford English Dictionary) are generally understood as "chuckle + snort" and "gallop + triumph" respectively, although Carroll himself never explained them. These are called a "portmanteau word", a term delivered to us by Humpty Dumpty in Lewis Carroll's "Through the Looking-Glass": "You see it's like a portmanteau -- there are two meanings packed up into one word." The word "portmanteau" (port-man-toe) means, "a leather travelling case that opens into two hinged compartments" (from the French for "carry cloak")

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DOCUMENT 1
Title
LSD before Leary. Sidney Cohen`s critique of 1950s psychedelic drug research.
Author
Novak SJ
Address
UCLA Oral History Program 90095-1575' USA.
Source
Isis, 88(1):87-110 1997 Mar
Abstract
In 1962 Sidney Cohen presented the medical community with its first warning about the dangers of the drug LSD. LSD had arrived in the United States in 1949 and was originally perceived as a psychotomimetic capable of producing a model psychosis. But in the mid 1950s intellectuals in Southern California redefined LSD as a psychedelic capable of producing mystical enlightenment. Though LSD was an investigational drug' authorized only for experimental use' by the late 1950s it was beginning to be available in the illicit drug market.
Language
Eng
Unique Identifier
97299398

MESH Headings
History of Medicine' 20th Cent. 1 I; Lysergic Acid Diethylamide 1 I *HI; Mental Disorders 1 I HI; Portraits 1 I; Psychopharmacology 1 I *HI; Psychotherapy 1 I HI; United States 4 I

Publication Type
BIOGRAPHY; HISTORICAL ARTICLE; JOURNAL ARTICLE
ISSN
0021-1753
Country of Publication
UNITED STATES

DOCUMENT 2

Title
LSD and creativity.
Author
Janiger O; Dobkin de Rios M
Address
Department of Psychiatry, University of California, Irvine.
Source
J Psychoactive Drugs, 21(1):129-34 1989 Jan-Mar
Abstract
The effects of lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) on creativity were examined in a unique experiment in the late 1950's. In this project, artists were asked to draw and paint a Kachina doll both prior to and one hour after the ingestion of LSD. Evaluations of these artistic productions were analyzed by a professor of art history in order to investigate the impact of LSD on artistic creativity. Certain representative changes were found in the artists' predominant style. The most significant change was noted in those artists whose styles were intrinsically representational or abstract to more expressionistic or nonobjective. Other changes noted included the following: relative size expansion; involution; movement; alteration of figure/ground and boundaries; greater intensity of color and light; oversimplification; symbolic and abstract depiction of objects; and fragmentation, disorganization, and distortion. Many artists judged their LSD productions to be more interesting and aesthetically superior to their usual mode of expression. The above-mentioned changes contributed to the artists' convictions that they were fashioning new meanings to an emergent world.
Language
Eng
Unique Identifier
89257905

MESH Headings
Art (*); Creativeness (*); Human; Lysergic Acid Diethylamide (*PD)

Publication Type
JOURNAL ARTICLE
ISSN
0279-1072
Country of Publication
UNITED STATES

DOCUMENT 3
SARWER FONER, G J
Some clinical and social aspects of lysergic acid diethylamide: II.
Psychosomatics; 1972 Sep Vol. 13(5) 309-316

Presents a review of the literature suggesting the following conclusions: (a) LSD induces a toxic psychosis with changes in proprioceptive and exteroceptive sensation and apperception. (b) Judgment, memory, clarity of thought, comprehension, initiative, and self-control are impaired. (c) Effects depend upon the S's personality, social setting, his present problems and motives. (d) The drug does not appear to be a specific agent useful in psychotherapeutics or in conditioning therapy. (e) The individual therapists, reporting good result with LSD, probably achieved it by their skillful interpersonal relationship with the patient. (f) It does not enhance creativity. (g) It appears to increase some of the sensorial awareness in a distorted way. This had led some to believe that it 'expands' the mind, increases consciousness, increases inner awareness and enhances creativity.